As the yellow brick road is to Oz, the magenta line is to the ICW. To reach one’s destination, one follows it. While flying monkeys don’t swarm when a vessel strays too far from the line, we already knew the bottom can reach up quickly and grab the inattentive. Unfortunately, the line does not appear on the water itself, but on our charts. Still, all and all the line is a fair approximation of the channel’s center and deepest point.
Thus, on ICW day two we brushed the frost off Elizabeth Jean‘s dodger, motored steadily south into North Carolina, and kept our eyes on the magenta line. The full moon rose as we finished anchoring in Camden Bay. Gypsy Soul and Drakka joined us in the salon for cocktails and stories. One account of riding out hurricane force winds in Annapolis taught us a new phrase. Describing this wild ride, Gypsy Soul’s captain explained how the situation “escalated” when the winds snapped his dock lines and then became “nautical” as he rode out the storm in open waters over several days.
We discussed the next day’s transit of Albemarle Sound, a shallow water body, known to “escalate” when winds exceeded 15 knots. Fortunately, our collective weather information predicted benign conditions, we even wondered aloud why the guides had so many cautions about Albemarle.
Steam rises off of the ICW as the morning sun begins to melt Elizabeth Jean’s frost coating.
This NOAA illustration shows the theoretical value of the Magenta Line for avoiding spoil areas and other shallow spots. First added to charts in 1912, the government has not regularly updated the line. In 2013, after receiving reports of groundings by boaters who followed the line into shoals, Coast Survey started to remove the magenta line from ICW charts. After feedback from the boating community and further consideration, the government will continue using the line, but with more caveats. For more information see:
Drakka’s crew. For Drakka’s unique take on cruising complete with magnificently whimsical illustrations see:
Gypsy Soul‘s crew.